'Year of the Tiger': Everclear to perform 2 shows at Pappy and Harriet's on Dec. 2

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Politics and art have been interconnected for centuries, so it makes sense why Everclear frontman Art Alexakis turned America's recent political turmoil into a song.

Said turmoil, and especially Trump supporters' fight to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election, inspired Everclear's first song in seven years, "Year of the Tiger." The song is a nod to the Chinese zodiac sign for 2022 and 1962, when Alexakis was born. In a statement, Alexakis said the tiger should become the new symbol of the Democratic Party, and added that the song is also a mission statement.

"Year of the Tiger," which was released in November ahead of the midterm elections, includes the lyrics “You do not have to like it. Tigers we are everywhere. The math doesn’t lie. Someday you’ll have to face the fact that the truth is not a slogan on a stupid red hat.”

During a day off while touring in the UK, Alexakis, who was a delegate representing Oregon's 3rd congressional district at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, said he felt "great" about the Democratic Party's performance and turnout during the 2022 election cycle.

“I’ve seen quite a few elections, but never seen a midterm like this,” Alexakis said. “The opposition party always gains a minimum of 20 to 30 seats in the House of Representatives and (gains) in the senate and state houses everywhere, and that didn’t happen. When there were more moderate or traditional Republicans, there were better fights. But when there were Trumpian minions, it didn’t work out so well, except in Ohio.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., center, chats with Art Alexakis, lead singer of the band Everclear, right, at a bar in Charleston, S.C., in 2004. AP Photo
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., center, chats with Art Alexakis, lead singer of the band Everclear, right, at a bar in Charleston, S.C., in 2004. AP Photo

Everclear is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its debut album, "World of Noise," with a tour this year, and will perform two shows on Dec. 2 at Pappy and Harriet's. The early show is sold out, but tickets are still available for the late show.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexakis found the original master recordings of "World Of Noise" while going through a storage space. The tapes were professionally preserved and digitized. The 30th anniversary edition of the album was released in June.

Humble beginnings

In 1993, Alexakis had moved to Oregon from California, his girlfriend was expecting the couple's first child and Everclear was struggling in the Portland music scene. He said he "wasn't sure" about the band's future. While working in his girlfriend's boss' garden one Saturday afternoon for extra money, he peeked over the fence and noticed "hipster-looking musicians" coming in and out of the home's basement next door.

“I’m like, ‘Ah, it’s a drug deal,” Alexakis said. “This one guy comes out, sees me, walks over, and asks, ‘Aren’t you in that band Evergreen, Evercream or something like that? I saw you guys down at the tavern.’ He showed me his basement studio. It was $10 an hour.”

Art Alexakis of Everclear performs at Four Winds Field in South Bend, Indiana on June 3, 2017. Everclear will perform at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2022.
Art Alexakis of Everclear performs at Four Winds Field in South Bend, Indiana on June 3, 2017. Everclear will perform at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown, Calif., on Dec. 2, 2022.

Alexakis decided to record the demo titled “World of Noise” with the two other members at the time, Craig Montoya (bass) and Scott Cuthbert (drums), to get an idea how the band sounded and where to make improvements. He offered the man $400 in music equipment in exchange for 40 hours of studio time. The 12-song demo took two weeks to record.

“World of Noise” featured the early sound of Everclear, which was harsh and ear-splitting punk rock and much different than the mainstream hits the band released later. The band sold copies on cassette at local shows, and it was never meant to be an official release. But “World of Noise” would be the group’s debut album after signing to Capitol Records the following year. Cuthbert then left the band and was replaced by Greg Eklund.

The album wasn’t well received upon its release. Everclear wouldn’t find its taste of success until 1995 after putting out its sophomore album “Sparkle and Fade.” The singles “Heroin Girl,” “Santa Monica” and “Heartspark Dollarsign” received radio airplay and the record was certified platinum the following year.

Everclear’s third album, “So Much for the Afterglow,” dropped in 1997 and sold 2 million copies. In 2000, Everclear released “Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile” and “Songs from an American Movie Vol. Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude.” The former was the last of the band’s albums to sell over 500,000 copies. Montoya and Eklund left Everclear following the release of the 2002 album "Slow Motion Daydream." The band's current lineup features Dave French (guitar), Freddy Herrera (bass) and Brian Nolan (drums).

Part of Everclear's success has always been Alexakis' songwriting and transforming the pain of his childhood, struggles with addiction and other personal tales into songs. Although the songs were radio-friendly pop hits, many take on extremely dark subject matter. The song "Heroin Girl" was written about his brother and one of his former girlfriend's fatal overdoses on heroin. "Father of Mine" and "Wonderful" share Alexakis' sadness of being a child of a broken marriage and his father leaving him, his four siblings and mother behind, forcing them to live in poverty.

Overcoming trauma

After Alexakis' parents split up, he and his family moved to the Mar Vista Gardens housing projects in Los Angeles near Culver City. Alexakis was physically and sexually abused by other boys in the neighborhood. He told the recovery website The Ties That Bind Us that he attempted suicide when he was 12 by filling his pockets with sand and lead weights and diving off the Santa Monica pier but decided to live. He would later deal with addictions to drugs and alcohol as a struggling musician while playing in bands in the Los Angeles and San Francisco music scenes during the '80s.

“I got off hard drugs in my 20s, but I didn’t go to rehab because only rich people had rehab back then,” Alexakis said. “I was in a mental clinic and got sent to detox in Orange County. I started seeing the doctor the county sent me to and he said ‘Well, you can drink if you want to. You’re not an alcoholic.’ I was like ‘No, I’m not.’ When you’re an addict, you’re an addict. You’re not supposed to drink, smoke pot or any of those things. I went from drugs to being a blackout drunk for the next five years.”

Alexakis tried to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but "hated the religious aspect of it."

“It was my ego and I wouldn’t surrender,” Alexakis said. “I was heading towards being that guy that had a lot of promise but couldn’t pull it together.”

Everclear performs at the Miller Lite Oasis during Summerfest on Sept. 9, 2021.
Everclear performs at the Miller Lite Oasis during Summerfest on Sept. 9, 2021.

While living in San Francisco, he was in a record store when an employee, a recovering alcoholic, noticed Alexakis shaking from alcohol withdrawal. The man approached Alexakis and offered to help by taking him to a meeting, which he initially refused. Two weeks later, he returned to the record store and told the man he needed help.

“He took me to four meetings that day and then handed me off to other people. By the end of the night, I had finally surrendered my ego, found peace and a higher power,” Alexakis said. “It doesn’t look like the God of guilt and shame that my mom and organized religion pushed on me my whole life. I believe myself to be a Christian, but not the kind that most people think of. I have no roots for organized religion whatsoever.”

At the height of Everclear's popularity, Alexakis appeared in advertisements for drug awareness programs. In 2000, he testified before congress in support of the Compassion for Children and Child Support Enforcement Act.

But while he’s been sober for 33 years, Alexakis went through periods without attending meetings, working his program and “acting like an alcoholic.” He admits to cheating on his previous wives and letting his character flaws get the best of him.

“That’s a crappy way to live,” Alexakis said. “I’m an addict. I don’t do anything halfway and don’t take little bites. I take big bites of everything, which can be a good thing. It’s helped me as an artist and it’s motivating to me, but I can’t do it if I’m not caring care of myself. ‘The Serenity Prayer’ is something I read every day and every time I’m in a meeting. Sometimes it gets me on stage if I’m feeling anxious. It’s a thing of surrender and acceptance.”

In 2019, Alexakis announced he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in a statement on the band's website, saying he had been living with the disease for three years. While being treated with immunosuppressants to control the disease, he contracted COVID-19 during the early stages of the pandemic and was hospitalized for three weeks. He was infected with the virus again during the UK tour, but recovered.

"I've been on an immunomodulator for the past year and I feel great. My immune system has obviously kicked in and is doing its job, which is great," Alexakis said. "My wife was in Egypt riding on camels and was like 'I have to get on a plane to England, I'll be right there.' I told her no and to keep riding her camel."

Everclear performed an outdoor show last year at Pappy and Harriet's. Alexakis described the show as "a lot of fun" and added that he wanted to return. The Detroit rock band Sponge will also be performing at the show.

"When we put out 'Sparkle and Fade' in 1995, (Sponge) took us on tour opening for them. They had a big hit at the time with (the song) 'Plowed' and treated us like brothers," Alexakis said. "I've taken them on tour through the years and we remain close. It's going to be fun to have them out there for that."

If you go

What: Everclear concert

When: 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2

Where: Pappy and Harriet's, 53-688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown

How much: $82

More information: pappyandharriets.com

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Everclear to perform 2 shows at Pappy and Harriet's on Dec. 2